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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


11th October 2020

Galanthus peshmenii .
The promise of spring continues to burgeon in the garden. Autumn remains in charge, and provides the occasional thrill, but it has been a coldish, wettish week. The weather hasn't been extreme but there has been enough meterological depression to suck the thrill from the garden, leaving the dankness lying arounbd in folorn piles. Most of it isn't pure dankness but deep piles of cut grass. A fortnight ago I rushed round with the mower in case it was the last dry day of the year. I got most of the long grass cut, though it lay piled in the ground in deep carpets. In the heat of summer it would have dried to fine threads and disappeared by the following week but now it is hanging around. If I kick over the piles the grass underneath is turning yellow. In a few more weeks it will turn to slippery sludge and make the slopes hazardous to cross. There are plenty of visceral thrills to come as the trumpets of autumnn blow their fanfare through the garden but this week they have been silent.
Galanthus peshmenii has burst into growth in the greenhouse and the promise of spring has pierced the seasonal gloom. It is warm down there. Occasional shafts of sunlight are magnified through the plastic and the good cheer is palpable. I have put one of the garden chairs in there so that I can be both merry and comfortable.
From time to time over the decades I have bought myself a tube of bubble mixture, gone out into the garden and blown bubbles. It lifts the spirits in a remakable way. Before long I will be laughing as I blow. I am reminded of the experience while sitting in the greenhouse thrilled by autumn snowdrops. A laugh in a bubble.


11th October 2020

Eucryphia moorei .
However the week hasn't been filled with whimsical nonsense. Trees have been blowing, branches falling. Last weekend saw the first good mulch of the year, the sycamore leaves have been crunchy underfoot and there are twigs and branches scattered among them. Eventually they rot to mulch, for the most part I am happy to let them get on with it. I move them from the paths for the convenience of the mower as much as anything else. It is a time for walking around watching where you put your feet.
There are pleasures in looking down. I only know my Eucalyptus are in flower from the fallen blossom on the ground. I usually know about Eucryphia moorei because the fallen petals strew the ground like thrown confetti. Just once or twice I have walked through the garden as a light breeze rustles the branches and watched the petals fall like early snowflakes. The tree was planted in the 1980's to get it into the ground rather than from any great plan. It has grown up surrounded by other things, rather tall and spindly. The small flowers are scattered through the distant crown and almnost invisible from the ground. A long lens on the camera and some magnification of the image has produced a better view than I can see from the ground. I am slowly thinning the trees around it, hoping that it might fatten out with more space, always aware that the wind might get in and snap the trunk if I remove too much. The last large Eucryphia that I snapped didn't recover, though I admit it wasn't the wind that caused the damage - I ran into it with a JCB.


11th October 2020

Hedychium urophyllum .
The Hedychium have gone out into a dedicated Hedychium garden tucked away behind a hedge of bananas, my contribution to the "exotic" zeitgeist of the moment. They have been planted out at some inauspicious moments, not so much the right time as the available time. It would have been nice to put them out in spring and give them a full season to establish but they have been put out in late autumn as the stems die down. Dig a hole, drop it in, move on to the next. The spoil from the holes was piled on top of the dormant rhizomes in the hope that it might protect them from adverse winter weather while they established. It seems to have worked. Those that went in two years ago are now producing mature stems and those that stand any chance of flowering outside have performed well (a great many of the hybrids were bred for warmer climates and have to be appreciated for their lovely leaves).
Those planted last autumn have produced short stems and when I look across the space it is clearly filled with Hedychium. That is a start. Next year I can hope for significant growth and a few more flowers. I have only found one plant that doesn't seem to have produced a shoot, and I know Hedychium can be lethargic things. It is too early to give it up for dead, it may easily start to grow next spring.
H. urophyllum has been a delight and made a tight clump of shoots clad in impressively wide, shiny leaves. The yellow flowers spill from the red tinged heads over a period of a few weeks and then the stems persist, adding a sense of structure through the winter. It seems to be perfectly hardy here, it will be interesting to learn how far north it will range.



11th October 2020

Nerine 'North Pole' .
As I was taking pictures in the garden the clouds burst. I took temporary cover beneath my golden variegated Liquidambar . I couldn't have imagined when I planted the scrappy stick that it would one day provide such opportune shelter. Unfortunately it has started to feel to tug of autumn, the leaves are thinning. It doesn't shed them in a pyre of defiance like 'Worplesdon', they just fall off bit by bit until it is bare. The rain was pattering through the thinning canopy, wet leaves were falling with it. After a few minutes I abandoned the thought of shelter and got soaked on my way back to the house, camera shoved up my jumper to protect it.
So I was in the mood for a synthetic spring when I got to the Nerine house in the afternoon. Fortunately there is warmth and colour to be had. I am trying to control the number of Nerine hybrids that I make this year. I was trying to do the same with the Disa in summer but still went a little overboard. I have trays of Nerine seedlings that need potting up and very little space for them on the benches. Something will have to go - the ferns would all be happier outside and that will free up some space.
Last year 'Queen Mary' looked particularly good, a pink flower with a broad white stripe along the centre of the tepal. I tried using it as a seed parent but the pollination didn't take. This year I have 'North Pole' flowering with a much stronger pattern and will see if 'Queen Mary' has pollen that is up to it. It might be quite nice to have some ridiculous bicolor seedlings to choose from.
At some point I am going to have to review the collection and reject the less effective cultivars. I have some garden canes ready to mark them. It is a gloomy autumnal job but the sun has come out and it is time to sieze the moment.